The Race

"Quit! Give up! You're beaten!"
They shout at me and plead
"There's just too much against you now
This time you can't succeed"

And as I start to hang my head
In front of failure's face
My downward fall is broken
By the memory of a race

And hope refills my weakened will
As I recall that scene:
For just the memory of that short race
Rejuvenates my being

A children's race - young boys, young men
How I remember well.
Excitement, sure! But also fear:
It wasn't hard to tell.

They all lined up so full of hope
Each thought to win that race
Or tie for first, or if not that,
At least take second place.

And fathers watched from off the side
Each cheering for his son
And each boy hoped to show his dad
That he would be the one

The whistle blew and off they went
Young hearts and hopes afire
To win and be the hero there
Was each young boy's desire

And one boy in particular
Whose dad was in the crowd
Was running in the lead and thought:
"My dad will be so proud!"

But as they speeded down the field
Across a shallow dip
The little boy who thought to win
Lost his step and slipped

Trying hard to catch himself
His hands flew out to brace
And amid the laughter of the crowd
He fell flat on his face

So down he fell and with him hope -
He couldn't win it now -
Embarrassed, sad, he only wished
To disappear somehow.

But as he fell his dad stood up
And showed his anxious face
Which to the boy so clearly said:
"Get up and win the race."

He quickly rose, no damage done
Behind a bit that's all -
And ran with all his mind and might
To make up for his fall

So anxious to restore himself
To catch up and to win -
His mind went faster than his legs:
He slipped and fell again!

He wished then that he had quit before
With only one disgrace
"I'm hopeless as a runner now;
I shouldn't try to race."

But in the laughing crowd he searched
And found his father's face;
That steady look that said again
"Get up and win the race!"

So up he jumped to try again
Ten yards behind the last -
"If I'm to gain those yards," he thought
"I've got to move real fast."

Exerting everything he had
He gained eight or ten,
But trying hard to catch the lead
He slipped and fell again!

Defeat! He lay there silently
A tear dropped from his eye -
"There's no sense running anymore:
Three strikes: I'm out why try!"

The will to rise had disappeared
All hope had fled away
So far behind, so error prone;
A loser all the way

"I've lost, so what's the use," he thought
"I'll live with my disgrace."
But then he thought about his dad
Who soon he'd have to face

"Get up" an echo sounded low
"Get up and take your place;
You were not meant for failure here.
Get up and win the race."

"With borrowed will get up," it said
"You haven't lost at all
For winning is no more than this:
To rise each time you fall."

So up he rose to run once more,
And with a new commit
He resolved that win or lose
At least he wouldn't quit

So far behind the others now
The most he'd ever been -
Still he gave it all he had
And ran as though to win

Three times he'd fallen, stumbling;
Three times he rose again;
Too far behind to hope to win
He still ran to the end

They cheered the winning runner
As he crossed the line first place
Head high, and proud, and happy;
No falling, no disgrace

But when the fallen youngster
Crossed the line last place,
The crowd gave him the greater cheer,
For finishing the race

And even though he came in last
With head bowed low, unproud,
You would have thought he'd won the race
To listen to the crowd

And to his dad he sadly said,
"I didn't do too well."
"To me, you won," his father said.
"You rose each time you fell."


And now when things seem dark and hard
And difficult to face
The memory of that little boy
Helps me in my race

For all of life is like that race,
With ups and downs and all.
And all you have to do to win
Is rise each time you fall.

"Quit! Give up! You're beaten!"
They still shout in my face.
But another voice within me says;